Following the rise of Asia as a higher-education powerhouse, European universities have found themselves facing an entirely new level of international competition. Indeed, Asian universities have substantially increased their presence in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, with many Chinese and Indian universities recording their highest rankings to date. Interestingly, however, of the four debutants in the top 200, three are in mainland Europe and one in Africa. Is this just a fluke? Or, faced with the unstoppable rise of Asia, is Europe fighting back?
University of Hamburg (Germany)
Following its absence from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings since 2012, Hamburg leaps back into the top 200 of the world’s leading universities, appearing at position 180. The university, which has produced no less than five Nobel prizewinners since its founding in 1919, is one of 22 German institutions in the top 200, up from 20 in the previous rankings. It’s also one of two German universities to make its debut in the top 200 in this year’s rankings.
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)
The University of the Witwatersrand, or Wits University as it’s commonly known, has had its highest ever rankings placement at 182. Not only does this make it the only non-European institution on the list of debutants, but it also marks the first time ever that Africa has had two universities in the top 200. The Johannesburg-based institution also closes the gap on the University of Cape Town, consistently South Africa’s highest-ranked university, to just 32 places, its narrowest ever gap.
University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany)
Coming in at 197, the University of Duisburg-Essen represents another big win for German universities in this year’s rankings. Indeed, no German institution in the top 200 last year dropped out of the top 200 this year. Germany is also the most represented country in the top 200 after the UK and the US, which is remarkable given how cheap higher education can be in Germany in comparison to these two traditional heavyweights.
Tilburg University (Netherlands)
It’s not just Germany that can take pride in the top 200 performance of its universities. For the first time ever, all of the Netherlands’ 13 ranked institutions find themselves in the top 200, with Tilburg making its debut at 198th position. In fact, eight of the 13 Dutch universities are in the top 100, making the Netherlands one of the best represented countries in that category.
All in all, it’s not just the University of Oxford’s place at the top of the rankings that gives Europe something to boast about. While the number of Asian institutions has increased substantially over the past few years, at the very top end Europe still shows it has the muscle to compete.